WWF cautions gov't on planned Nayong Pilipino vax site

Published May 18, 2021, 12:03 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Amid the government’s plan to construct a mega COVID-19 vaccination site at the reclaimed Nayong Pilipino grounds in Parañaque City, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines said “all solutions to help end the pandemic should work with nature and not against it.”

In a statement, WWF Philippines said Nayong Pilipino is an area that is in its first natural succession stage with grass and trees, an essential stage in ecological health.

The area, the group further said, has already naturally established its role in the ecology not just in its area but of adjacent ecologies of the cities it straddles.

“Thousands of Filipino lives have been lost and more than 1 million Filipinos have been infected. We agree that a speedy and efficient vaccination program is vital for us to control the current pandemic. We, at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines, believe that all solutions to help end the pandemic should work with nature and not against it,” the group said in a statement.

Last week, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the government is pushing through with the plan to build a massive vaccination site at Nayong Pilipino.

The proposal has already led to the resignation of Nayong Pilipino Foundation Executive Director Lucille Karen Malilong-Isberto, who opposed the planned construction.

“Our recent study found that the origins of many pandemics trace themselves to environmental destruction and our encroachment upon natural ecosystems. We cannot protect the Filipino people by repeating the same mistakes that led us to where we are today. We learned the hard lesson with the pandemic and we should act accordingly,” WWF Philippines further said.

“Other countries have proven that the best vaccination programs are the ones that are decentralized and where there is access to the vaccination areas by everyone. Our country should develop pandemic solutions that will safeguard the wellbeing of Filipinos which necessarily include protecting existing ecosystems and natural resources,” it added.

Should the plan to build the vaccination site in Nayong Pilipino pushes through, WWF Philippines pointed out that it will take time for the area to recover and perform its role when disturbed.

“Vaccination sites should be accessible to all – a decentralized vaccine roll-out will help Filipinos rich and poor to be inoculated as soon as possible, with lesser exposure to other individuals. The best responses are community-based and people-centered, as shown by various solutions that have worked well and carried our people through the past 15 months,” WWF Philippines said.

“We can put both people and nature first in the pathways we can pursue out of this pandemic. Our response to this pandemic will also set a precedent for the future development of the country. In prioritizing both the wellbeing of all Filipinos and protection of the planet, we can build a safer, fairer future for all of us. In failing to do so, we risk returning to the same situation we have found ourselves in today,” the statement concluded.